BHUBANESWAR: If there was one person apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and giant killer Smriti Irani to have become the toast of the nation post-Tsunamo 2019, it is none other than Balasore MP Pratap Chandra Sarangi.
The 64-year-old first time Parliamentarian, almost immediately after the results were declared, captured the imagination of the country with his humble origin, simplicity and austere lifestyle making waves through social media and TV channels. He has come to be hailed as “Odisha’s Modi”.
The adulation was evident in the thundering applause he received as he walked up the podium on the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday evening to take oath as Minister of State in Modi Ministry.
Sarangi is also a giant slayer in his own right as he defeated two crorepati candidates BJD MP Rabindra Kumar Jena and Odisha Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik’s son Navajyoti Patnaik in this election. He won the seat beating Jena by a margin of nearly 13,000 votes.
Born to a poor Brahmin family on January 4, 1955 in Gopinathpur village under Nilagiri block of Balsore district, he graduated from Fakir Mohan College in 1975. He had worked as a clerk in Nilagiri College before leaving the job to plunge fulltime into Sangh activities and subsequently entering politics.
Sarangi was a spiritual seeker since his childhood and wanted to become a monk at the Ramakrishna mutt, West Bengal. He had also made several visits to Belur Mutt. But he was refused by the seers at the mutt and asked to go back and take care of his widowed mother along with serving the people.
He did as instructed and engaged in social service under RSS. He became the State president of Bajrang Dal and State joint secretary of the VHP. He earned a reputation for his simplicity, self-less service and honesty and also soon emerged a mass leader with his strong oratory and upright stance.
In 2004, he was made the BJP candidate from Nilagiri Assembly segment and won. The 2009 elections had twist for him as he had to contest as an Independent after losing the party ticket while filing his nomination papers. He again won convincingly.
In 2014, he was fielded by the BJP from Balasore Lok Sabha seat and lost to Jena. This election, he battled two formidable opponents and came out victorious.